Monday, September 30, 2013

Harvard Fires Minister-Turned-Atheist for Lying; Teresa MacBain Said She Had M. Div. on Resume

A former United Methodist minister-turned-atheist was dismissed from her high-profile position at Harvard University last week after it was revealed she falsified her resume, the Religion News website reports today (September 30, 2013).

Teresa MacBain -- one of the most high-profile nonbelievers in the country -- was fired from her newly created position that she started at the beginning of September with the Humanistic Community at Harvard.

Last week, MacBain acknowledged she had misrepresented her education to Harvard, to the broader atheist community, and to reporters. "I have committed a grave error in judgment that I deeply regret," MacBain wrote.

McBain lied on her resume by saying she had a master's of divinity degree (M. Div.) from Duke University. The fact is that she just attended one summer course at Duke.

Turkey Lifts Ban on Women Wearing Headscarves; Secularists Say They Defy Sep. of State and Rel.

Turkey announced today (September 30, 2013) it would lift a ban on women wearing headscarves in most public offices, following other measures critics say are aimed at Islamizing the staunchly secular country, the AFP (Agence France Press) website reports.

In a major speech to introduce political reforms, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that -- with few exceptions -- civil servants would be allowed to wear headscarves after a longstanding ban is overturned.

The ban will remain in effect for judges, prosecutors, police, and military personnel.

Secularists see the headscarf as a symbol of defiance against the strict separation of state and religion -- a basic tenet of modern Turkey.

Official: John Paul II, John XXIII to Be Saints; Pope Sets April 27, 2014 as Date to Become Saints

Blessed Popes John XXIII and John Paul II will be canonized on April 27, 2014, Divine Mercy Sunday, the Vatican officially confirmed today (September 30, 2013), according to the National Catholic Register website.

In a statement released this morning. the Vatican said that Pope Francis "decreed the Blesseds John XXIII and John Paul II will be enrolled among the saints on April 27, 2014, the Second Sunday of Easter, of the Divine Mercy."

The Vatican said the Holy Father announced his decision at 10 a.m. at an ordinary public consistory made up of cardinals and bishops in the Consistory Hall of the Vatican Apostolic Palace, during the celebration of mid-morning prayer.

Vatican and Rome authorities will now set to work, preparing for what is expected to be an enormous number of pilgrims taking part in the canonizations from all over the world.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Terrorists Kill at Least 50 at a College in Nigeria; Muslims Gun Down Students Sleeping in Dorms

Witnesses say that Islamic terrorists dressed in Nigerian military uniforms assaulted a college inside the country today (September 29, 2013), gunning down dozens of students as they slept in their dorms and shot others trying to flee, according to the Fox News website.

"They started gathering students into groups outside, then they opened fire and killed one group and then moved onto the next group and killed them. It was so terrible," one surviving student said.

The siege began at about 1 a.m. today in rural Gujba. "They attacked our students while they were sleeping in their hostels, they opened fire at them," Provost Molima Idi Mato of Yobe State College of Agriculture said. The extremists also torched classrooms.

Nigeria State Police Commissioner Sanusi Rufai said that he suspected the terrorist group Boko Haram was behind the attack, but declined to elaborate. Isi Mato said he could not give an exact death toll, as security forces still are recovering bodies of students mostly aged between 18 and 22, but he said as many as 50 may have been killed.

NJ Court Forces Same-Sex Marriages on the State; Says That NJ's "Civil Unions" Block Fed. Benefits

Same-sex couples must be permitted to marry in New Jersey, a state judge ruled on September 27, arguing that the parallel label "civil unions" -- which the state already allows gay couples -- is illegally preventing them from getting federal benefits, The Bold Truth website reports today (September 29, 2013).

The judge ordered that same-sex marriages be allowed starting October 21, but that date could be delayed on appealing the decision.

The office of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said the case will be appealed to the New Jersey Supreme Court.

The ruling cites the U.S. Supreme Court's June rejection of part of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) -- a move that ensured same-sex spouses legally married in a state may receive federal benefits.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Tex. PC(USA) Seeks to Leave National PC Office; Dallas PC Congregation Votes to Separate in Oct.

The leadership of the largest Texas-based congregation belonging to Presbyterian Church (USA) has recommended that the church leave the mainline denomination, the Christian Post website reports today (September 28, 2013).

In a unanimous decision, the Session for Highland Park Presbyterian Church (HPPC) of Dallas approved a resolution recommending dismissal from PC(USA). With the Session's approval, the resolution will next go to the congregation for a vote scheduled to take place on Sunday, October 27.

William Montgomery -- spokesman for the Session at the Highland Park Presbyterian Church -- said there were many reasons for the recommendation. These include PC(USA)'s lack of core theological beliefs, disagreement over the authority of Scripture and salvation through Jesus Christ alone, and the impact of PC(USA) governance policy on the life of HPPC.

If approved by the congregation, upon leaving PC(USA), Highland Park Presbyterian plans to join the Evangelical Covenant Order (ECO) of Presbyterians -- a new, more conservative body. "The appeal of ECO lies in its evangelical theology, focus on local churches, and conviction to 'essential beliefs,'" explained Montgomery.

Suspected Muslims Kill Pastor, 2 Kids in Nigeria; Also Set Fire to a Church in the Town of Dorawa

Suspected Boko Haram Islamists opened fire in a church in Nigeria's restive northeast on September 26, killing the pastor and his two children before setting fire to the building and fleeing, the Yahoo News website reports today (September 28, 2013).

Boko Haram -- which has said it is fighting to create an Islamic state in mainly Muslim northern Nigeria -- has repeatedly attacked churches in its four-year insurgency.

"The church and two other houses in the community were burnt by the gunmen before fleeing the scene of the incident," a military spokesman said in a statement.

The killings occurred in the town of Dorawa, some 18 miles from the site of the brutal school attack in July that saw dozens of students slaughtered.

Friday, September 27, 2013

French Pol. Wants 2 Christian Holidays Replaced; Seeks Jewish Yom Kippur and Islamic Eid Holidays

A French official has sparked controversy in France by suggesting that two Christian public holidays should be removed and replaced by ones marking the Jewish festival of Yom Kippur and the Muslim festival of Eid, the France 24 website reports today (September 27, 2013).

Dounia Bouzar -- an anthropoligist specializing in religion who was recently appointed to France's National Observatory on Secularism -- put forward the proposal in an interview with France's "Challenges" magazine this week.

Rather than adding new holidays to the calendar, Bouzar suggested replacing two unspecified Christian public holidays with ones marking the Jewish festival of Yom Kippur and the Muslim festival of Eid.

Bouzar's comments have attracted much criticism from French conservatives and Christians. "We must stop overturning all the cultural landmarks to which the French are attached," Abbot Grosjean -- the secretary for the Commission of Ethics and Politics of the Diocese of Versailles -- told the French daily newspaper "Le Figaro." "The calendar is the fruit of a history, of a culture -- a reflection of the Christian roots that are part of our heritage."

Gang-Raped Saudi Woman to Receive 200 Lashes; Violated Islamic Law by Sitting in Car with Male

A Saudi Arabian female gang rape victim has been sentenced to 200 lashes and six months in prison by a Saudi court for violating the country's Islamic law on segregation of the sexes, the Most Intolerant Religion website reports today (September 27, 2013).

The Saudi court determined that the woman -- who has not been publicly identified -- sat in an automobile with an old school friend to whom she was no blood relation; hence, she violated Islamic Sharia Law of gender segregation.

While in her friend's vehicle, two other men got in the car and drove the woman and her friend to a secluded area where five other men met them.

It was in this remote area where the seven men raped the woman.

Cath. Priest Resigns Due to Impregnating Woman; Unlikely "If Situation in Church Were Different"

Dean McFalls -- a well-known priest in the Stockton (California) Diocese -- has resigned after telling parishioners he's about to become the father of a baby boy, the California Catholic Daily website reports today (September 27, 2013).

"I definitely have disappointed many people," McFalls said. "That's why I've talked about it openly, so they won't be left guessing about what's going on."

McFalls was pastor at St. Mary's Church in downtown Stockton. He announced his resignation in a statement read during mass last Sunday.

In an apparent effort to blame the multiplicity of serious dilemmas currently confronting the Catholic Church for his impregnating the unidentified woman, McFalls said, "If the situation in the Catholic Church were different, I would be a better man. More stable, more effective in the long run as a human being."

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Cardinal:"Manhattan Declaration Returns Home;" Laws Are "Toxic" When They Violate God's Plan

Four years after interfaith leaders issued the Manhattan Declaration, Christian leaders warned this week that traditional marriage, the sanctity of life, and religious freedom are all "severely threatened," the Christian Broadcast Network website reports today (September 26, 2013).

Laws become "toxic" when they violate God's plan to protect life from conception to natural death and marriage as the union of a man and a woman, New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan said, during a forum at Columbia University titled "The Manhattan Declaration Returns Home."

The four-year-old manifesto warns that Christians may be forced to practice civil disobedience by refusing to obey laws that force them to violate their faith.

"Boy, do we ever need God's help, because the forces allied against us are powerful, but He's a lot more powerful," Cardinal Dolan said.

Anti-Golden Dawn Rift in Athens Ends in Violence; Protesters Clash with Police, Want Party Banned

Police and anti-fascist protesters clashed in Athens, Greece yesterday near the Golden Dawn party headquarters, the Euro News website reports today (September 26, 2013).

Riot officers fired tear gas at protesters who hurled petrol bombs and stones. Rampaging protesters set garbage cans on fire and smashed bank windows. Police chased small groups of protesters through the streets.

The violence in the Greek capital came after dozens of demonstrators broke off from an otherwise peaceful march that police prevented from reaching the offices of the ultra right-wing, anti-immigrant party.

The day had seen the largest protest so far against the recent killing of left-wing activist and hip hop performer Pavlos Fissas, allegedly by a Golden Dawn supporter. Demonstrators gathered near parliament demanding the party be banned. They also called for the prosecution of its leadership along with party members accused of involvement in racist attacks as well as other crimes, including blackmail and racketeering.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Pres. of Brazil Blasts US at UN for Spying on It; Calls NSA Spying "Espionage," Breach of Intl. Law

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff -- who last week canceled a high-profile state visit to the U.S. scheduled for October due to reports that the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) had been spying on Brazil and her email -- yesterday criticized the U.S. for international spying, at a UN General Assembly meeting, the Newsmax World website reports today (September 25, 2013).

She also announced that Brazil would adopt legislation and technology to protect it from U.S. spying.

At yesterday's General Assembly meeting, Rousseff launched a blistering attack on U.S. spying, calling espionage among friendly nations "totally unacceptable."

"Meddling in such a manner in the lives and affairs of other countries is a breach of international law and, as such, it is an affront to the principles that should otherwise govern relations among countries, especially among friendly nations," Rousseff told the annual gathering of world leaders at the United Nations.

Many Muslim Girls Have Sex with Syrian Rebels; See It as Holy War Practice Called "Sexual Jihad"

Many Muslim teen girls have been going to Syria in recent months to satisfy the sexual desires of Syrian rebels by having sex with scores of them in an Islamic holy war practice called "sexual jihad," the Spero Forum website reports today (September 25, 2013).

According to Tunisian Interior Minister Lofti Bin Jeddo, the girls "are sexually swapped between 20, 30, and 100 rebels and they come back bearing the fruit of sexual contacts in the name of sexual jihad and we are silent doing nothing and standing idle." Bin Jeddo said this during an address to the North African nation's National Constituent Assembly.

"After the sexual liaisons they have there in the name of 'jihad al-nikah' (Arabic for sexual holy war) they come home pregnant," Bin Jeddou told the assembly.

Jihad al-nikah -- sexual jihad -- permits non-marital sex with multiple partners and is considered by some Sunni Muslims as a legitimate form of holy war or jihad.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Card. Burke Strives to Deny Pelosi Communion; Vatican High Court Head Calls Her Grave Sinner

Because of her longstanding support for abortion, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, a Catholic, must be denied Communion under the law of the Catholic Church, said Cardinal Raymond Burke, the Catholic News website reports today (September 24, 2013).

Cardinal Burke -- head of the highest court at the Vatican -- referenced his remarks about Pelosi to Canon Law and specifically Canon 915, which says those Catholics who obstinately persevere "in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to Holy Communion."

"Certainly this is a case when Canon 915 must be applied," said Cardinal Burke in an interview reprinted on September 5 in "The Wanderer," a national Catholic weekly. "This is a person who obstinately, after repeated admonitions, persists in a grave sin -- cooperating with the crime of procured abortion -- and still professes to be a devout Catholic."

"This is a prime example of what Blessed John Paul II referred to as the situation of Catholics who have divorced their faith from their public life and therefore are not serving their brothers and sisters in the way that they must -- in safeguarding and promoting the life of the innocent and defenseless unborn, in safeguarding and promoting the integrity of marriage and the family," the Cardinal said.

Kenyan President: Siege of Nairobi Mall Is Over; "We Have Ashamed and Defeated Our Attackers"

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta declared today (September 24, 2013) that the four-day-long siege of an upscale mall in Nairobi -- the capital of Kenya -- by Islamist militants has ended with the deaths of five attackers and 11 in custody. He announced three days of mourning for the more than 60 people killed in the attack, a death toll that he said is expected to rise with the recovery of more bodies from the mall, according to the Washington Post website.

"As a nation, our head is bloodied but unbowed," Kenyatta said in a televised address. "We have ashamed and defeated our attackers."

Kenyatta said he could not confirm reports by Kenya's foreign minister that three Americans and a British woman were among the heavily armed jihadists who stormed the Westgate Premier Shopping Mall on September 21, massacred dozens of people, and seized hostages. But he promised a full accounting of what happened, adding that experts are conducting forensic tests to determine the nationalities of the assailants.

Sixty-one civilians and six members of the security forces were killed in the bloodshed, Kenyatta said. He added that bodies were still trapped under the rubble left after three floors of the mall collapsed during the tail end of the operation. The Kenyan Red Cross said that as many as 65 civilians reported to have been inside the mall remain missing.

Exclusive: Assad Did Order Chemical Attacks; Defected Syrian Weapons Chief Got Assad's Order

Syrian President Bashar Assad personally ordered the launch of three chemical weapons attacks against his own people, according to a defected former Syrian weapons chief in a damning indictment of the Syrian regime which has adamantly denied ever using chemical weapons, the All Voices website reports exclusively today (September 24, 2013).

Brigadier General Zaher al-Sakat -- a former chief of chemical warfare in the 5th division in the contested Deraa province in southern Syria -- said he received orders directly from Assad to gas civilians, but could not bring himself to do it and so replaced chemical canisters with harmless substitutes.

Sakat -- based on his own intelligence sources -- claimed Assad is dodging the terms of a Russian-brokered deal to destroy his chemical weapons arsenal by stealthily passing some of the deadly stocks to his allies.

Sakat -- who has since defected to Jordan -- claimed that Assad is trying to "cheat" the Russian-US deal, by sending a portion of his chemical weapons to allies in Lebanon and Iran.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Egypt Court Bans Muslim Brotherhood Activities; Court Also Freezes All of the Brotherhood's Assets

An Egyptian court today (September 23, 2013) banned all Muslim Brotherhood activities and those of any affiliated associations in Egypt and has frozen all of its assets, according to the Euro News website. The group has condemned the decision.

It is the latest move in the crackdown on the Islamist group which supports ousted President Mohamed Mursi.

Since he was removed from power by the military on July 1st, around 1,000 brotherhood members have been arrested and many killed in violent clashes.

The news comes just one day after the constitutional committee announced a rollback of changes to the constitution adopted under Mursi.

Vandals Topple Ten Commandments Monument; Cleric Refers to DC Vandalism as a "Hate Crime"

Vandals knocked down a prominent monument of the Ten Commandments facing the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, D.C. this past weekend, the Christian Broadcast Network website reports today (September 23, 2013).

The 850-pound monument was shoved down so no one could read the commandments. It sits in front of the Christian ministry Faith and Action.

The structure had been reinforced with a steel bar and would have taken at least four large adults to shove it over, Rev. Rob Schenck -- who leads the ministry -- explained.

Rev. Schenck said he doesn't believe it was a mere act of vandalism. "If this were a synagogue or a mosque, there's no doubt this would be labeled a hate crime," he said.

Seattle U. Urged to Cancel Angela Davis' Invite; Over 6,000 Say She Violates Teachings of Christ

In the last 72 hours, more than 6,200 people have signed a petition urging Fr. Stephen Sundborg, SJ, President of Seattle University, to cancel the October 17th speech by -- and reception for -- 1960s radical and communist Angela Davis at the Catholic institution of higher learning, the Christian Newswire website reports today (September 23, 2013).

The petition is sponsored by the Tradition Family Property (TFP) Student Action -- a group that promotes moral values on college campuses.

"That a Catholic educational institution would be willing to invite and promote a speaker who stands in stark opposition to the teachings of Christ and His Church stuns the common sense of the Catholic faithful and Puget Sound residents alike," the petition states. 

"It would be difficult to find a speaker who contradicts the teaching of the Catholic Church on more levels and more deeply than Angela Davis," said TFP Student Action Director John Ritchie. "Twice she ran for vice president of the United States on the Communist Party USA ticket. She is a notorious feminist, socialist, and Marxist. To this very day, she engages in pro-abortion, pro-same-sex 'marriage' activism."

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Pope Rips Abortions in a "Throw-Away Culture;" "Every Aborted Child Has the Face of Jesus"

In an audience with Catholic gynecologists on September 20, Pope Francis denounced abortions as a symptom of today's "throw-away culture" and encouraged Catholic doctors to refuse to perform them, the Catholic News website reports today (September 22, 2013).

Francis issued the strong anti-abortion message and cited Vatican teaching on the need to defend the unborn a day after he was quoted as blasting the Catholic Church's "obsession" with "small-minded rules" that are driving many faithful away.

In the interview that has sent shockwaves through the church, Francis urged its pastors to focus on being merciful and welcoming, rather than concentrating only on such divisive, hot-button issues as abortion, gay marriage, and contraception.

In his audience with the gynecologists, Francis denounced today's "throw-away culture" that justifies disposing of lives, and said doctors in particular had been forced into situations where they are called to "not respect life." He also said, "Every child that isn't born, but is unjustly condemned to be aborted, has the face of Jesus Christ, has the face of the Lord."

Deadliest Attack on Pakistan Christians Kills 75; Taliban Blamed, Says It Will Kill All Non-Muslims

A pair of suicide bombers detonated their explosives outside a historic church in Peshawar, Pakistan today (September 22, 2013), killing 75 people in the deadliest-ever attack on Pakistan's Christian minority, according to the Newser website.

The Jundullah wing of the Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility, with a spokesman saying, "All non-Muslims in Pakistan are our target, and they will remain our target as long as America fails to stop drone strikes in our country.

The latest U.S. drone strike came today, when missiles hit a pair of compounds in the North Wazinstan tribal area, killing six suspected militants, Pakistani intelligence officials said.

The attack on the All Saints Church in Peshawar -- which also wounded 110 people -- occurred as at least 400 worshipers were leaving after services for a meal on the front lawn.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Greek Orthodox Church Set on Fire in S. Italy; Pastor: "This Is a Sign to Pick Ourselves Up"

A Greek Orthodox Church -- located in the densely-populated district of Sbarre in Reggio Calabria, Southern Italy -- was set on fire in broad daylight, the Greek Reporter website reports today (September 21, 2013).

The episode has shocked the believers and the citizens, who rushed to the scene as soon as they heard the news.

"This city is very good at throwing mud at itself," the pastor Daniel Castrizio said. "We do not want anything from anyone but the city cannot leave its children in this state of ignorance and total anarchy."

He added, "How can you speak well of a city burning churches? I believe that this is the case to give a sign, not for the Orthodox Church, but for ourselves, for the region, for the chance to pick ourselves up."

Pope Francis: Love of Money Is Root of All Evil; "We Cannot Serve God and Money at Same Time"

The love of money is the root of all evil -- that stark warning contained in St. Paul's first letter to Timothy -- was at the heart of Pope Francis' homily yesterday at his morning Mass in Casa Santa Marta, the Independent Catholic News website reports today (September 21, 2013).

Reflecting on the way in which greed can corrupt our hearts and weaken our faith, the Pope stressed we can never serve God and money at the same time.

Money, the Pope continued, sickens our minds, poisons our thoughts, even poisons our faith, leading us down the path of jealousy, quarrels, suspicion, and conflict. While money begins by offering a sense of well-being, if we are not careful wealth can quickly lead to vanity, self-importance, and the sin of pride.

Instead of focusing on money, the Pope said, we should strive for justice, piety, faith, and charity, as well as the gifts of patience and meekness which are the ways of the Lord. Pope Francis concluded with the wish that God will help each one of us to avoid falling into the trap of  making money our idol.

First US Anti-Nazi Film Found in Belgian Archive; "Hitler's Reign of Terror" Was Produced in 1933

The first U.S. film to warn about the dangers of Adolf Hitler's regime has been found in a Brussels, Belgium film archive, having lain unnoticed for some 75 years, the Forward (Jewish) website reports today (September 21, 2013).

"Hitler's Reign of Terror" was produced by Cornelius Vanderbilt -- an heir to the wealthy American industrialist family -- who visited Germany as Hitler was voted into power in 1933.

The film revolves around footage that Vanderbilt shot and smuggled out of Germany, showing Nazi party rallies, book-burnings, and the ransacking of Jewish shops.

At its premiere in New York City in 1934, the film was a big success, said Bruno Mestdagh, head of the digital collections at the Belgian film archive Cinematheque. "The German embassy in the United States protested, so the film was censored and adapted. It was then shown in other cities but with much less success," Mestdagh said.

The film has now been remastered and will be shown at New York's Museum of Modern Art in October, 2013.

Friday, September 20, 2013

US Drops Saudi Princess Human Trafficking Case; Wife of Saudi Prince Faced Up to 12 Yrs. in Prison

U.S. prosecutors have dropped human trafficking charges against a Saudi princess accused of holding a Kenyan housekeeper against her will, the News Daily website reports today (September 20, 2013).

Meshael Alayban -- one of six wives of Saudi Prince Abdulrahman bin Nasser bin Abdulaziz al Saud -- had been due to enter a plea in a Santa Ana, California court today to the felony charges, filed against her in July.

But Orange county District Attorney Tony Rackauckas announced unexpectedly that he was dropping the charges, due to insufficient evidence.

The 42-year-old princess faced up to 12 years in prison if convicted of the human trafficking felony. She had been free on $5 million bail, although she was required to wear a GPS tracking device.

Vandals Decapitate Statues of Jesus, Virgin Mary; Nine Statues Marred Outside Malaga, NJ Church

Members of St. Mary's Church in Malaga, New Jersey are in disbelief after vandals smashed the heads off statues of Jesus and the Virgin Mary, the CBS website reports today (September 20, 2013).

In all, nine statues were damaged including three statues that are about five feet tall -- Sacred Heart of Jesus, Virgin Mary, and Our Lady of Fatima.

"For a statue to be defamed in this way in this very holy ground and this very holy church is crushing to me," says long-time parishioner Cynthia Hetzler.

Depending on what police learn, Chief Michael Rock says vandalism charges could be upgraded to a hate crime. "If we could determine that this was the result of a bias incident, then obviously the charges will be enhanced," says Rock.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Berlin District Forbids All Christmas Decorations; Due to Denying Muslims Street Use for Ramadan

There will be no Christmas lights, Christmas trees, or other Christmas decorations in one part of Berlin, Germany -- even on private property -- after officials in the Kreuzberg district banned the display of anything that celebrates the Christian holiday, because someone might be offended, the WND (World Net Daily) website reports today (September 19, 2013).

"Why should religious festivals be celebrated in public?" asked Social Democratic Party Councilor Martin Becker.

The censorship was supported by the left-wing councilman as a response to demands by Muslims in the district that they be allowed to celebrate the end of Ramadan in the streets. Due to a fear of noise complaints, council officials decided that the best solution was to ban all religious festivals from being publicly celebrated in the district.

The ban includes decorations on private property if they could be seen by the public, according to reports. The only exception will be a location the government would designate for a Christmas tree.

Pope Rips Cath. Church's Obsession with Abortion; Will Set a New Tone for Church as "Home for All"

Pope Francis -- in the first extensive interview of his young six-month-old papacy -- said that the Roman Catholic Church had grown "obsessed" with preaching about abortion, gay marriage, and contraception, and that he has chosen not to speak of those issues despite recriminations from some critics, the New York Times website reports today (September 19, 2013).

In the most challenging of several of his recent beliefs that are inharmonious with the traditional doctrines of the church, Francis sought to set a new tone for the church, saying it should be a "home for all" and not a "small chapel" focused on doctrine, orthodoxy, and a limited agenda of moral teachings.

"It is not necessary to talk about these issues all the time," the pope told the Rev. Antonio Spadaro, a fellow Jesuit and editor in chief of "La Civilta Cattolica," the Italian Jesuit journal whose content is routinely approved by the Vatican. He added, "The dogmatic and moral teachings of the church are not all equivalent. The church's pastoral ministry cannot be obsessed with the transmission of a disjointed multitude of doctrines to be imposed insistently."

The pope continued, "We have to find a new balance; otherwise, even the moral edifice of the church is likely to fall like a house of cards, losing the freshness and fragrance of the Gospel."

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Seattle Univ. to Host Radical Activist Angela Davis; Cath. School Will Honor Abortion Rights Supporter

Angela Davis -- a radical activist with past associations to the Black Panther Party and the Communist Party USA -- will sign books and speak at Seattle University on October 17, according to the University's website, despite her support for abortion rights and same-sex marriage, the Cardinal Newman Society website reports today (September 18, 2013).

The Center for the Study of Justice in Society at Seattle University -- a Jesuit Catholic school in Washington state -- will also host the screening of a sympathetic documentary film about Davis at the nearby Northwest African American Museum on October 13. "Help us commemorate the anniversary of the arrest of Angela Davis on October 13, 1970," states the Jesuit university's invitation to view the film, "Free Angela and All Political Prisoners."

Davis -- who graduated from extremely liberal Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts in 1965 -- was on the FBI's 10 Most Wanted List after she went on the run following the kidnapping and murder of a judge in California. The judge was killed with a gun allegedly purchased by Davis. She was acquitted of murder, kidnapping, and conspiracy. After her release from prison, Davis traveled to the communist Soviet Union and received the Lenin Peace Prize in 1979.

Davis reportedly said, "The only path of liberation for black people is that which leads toward complete and radical overthrow of the capitalist class."

Man Robs Worshipers during MA Church Service; Gunman Robs Pentecostal Church in Holyoke

Holyoke, Massachusetts police are looking for a man they say interrupted a church service and robbed several parishioners at gunpoint, the Fox News website reports today (September 18, 2013).

Lt. James Albert says the masked suspect entered the Pentecostal church at about 2 p.m. last Sunday, announced the robbery, and took personal items -- including cellphones -- from several of the roughly 20 worshipers.

One of the congregants called police after the robber ran off.

The suspect was described as a thin, Latino man wearing a black T-shirt, pants, and hat.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Catholic Univ. to Offer Women's Sex Workshop; Marquette U. Women to Discuss Vulgar Topics

Despite complaints from alumni, students, and faculty, a Catholic university is going ahead with a 12-week workshop for women discussing  just about any unorthodox sex that can be imagined, the One News Now website reports today (September 17, 2013).

The 12-week "FemSex Workshop" being presented by Marquette University -- a Jesuit university in Milwaukee, Wisconsin -- contains explicitly sexual topics too graphic to mention in print.

"They seem very, very intent on pushing this onto this university, which doesn't even seem to want it," says Katherine Timpf of "I don't really know what their angle is here," she adds, speculating that the university could be attempting to fit in with a culture pushing sex.

Marquette pulled its sponsorship of the FemSex Workshop earlier this year, but the university's Honors Program is now sponsoring it. FemSex was developed at the University of California at Berkley and has now spread to campuses throughout the country.

Fired Lesbian Sues Rutgers U. of Discrimination; Says Dean Favored Men-Backed Women Workers

Laura Frederico -- a former senior-level public relations official at Rutgers University who was fired last year -- is suing the university, claiming that Dean Jacquelyn Litt discriminated against her because she is a lesbian, the Raw Story website reports today (September 17, 2013).

Frederico said that Litt -- a women's studies scholar -- "felt that women who had men behind them were stronger and better employees." Frederico had been hired by the New Jersey school to write articles and materials promoting the women's college at Rutgers.

According to Frederico's complaint, Litt "did not respect lesbians," and previous lesbians in her employ had been forced to resign or transfer because of her discriminatory behavior.

The lawsuit also asserts that "the fact that plaintiff was a lesbian was not a secret and, in fact, plaintiff kept a picture of her wife on her desk." Rutgers acknowledges that Dean Litt knew of Frederico's sexual orientation, but denies that it played any role in her firing, asserting that her writing "required substantial revisions, changes, or reworking."

Monday, September 16, 2013

So. Baptist Head Warns Bible Belt Is Collapsing; Christians Must Now Choose God or US Leaders

The new president of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) public policy organization has said that the Bible belt is collapsing, the Christian Broadcast Network website reports today (September 16, 2013).

Rev. Russell Moore recently said Bible-believing Christians will increasingly be forced to choose whether they will follow God or the nation's leaders.

"We are not Americans first. We belong to another kingdom, and we will stand and speak for that kingdom," he said. The Southern Baptist Convention -- which has more than 16 million members -- is the largest Protestant denomination in the United States.

But Moore -- head of the SBC's Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission -- said the loss of the so-called "culture war" in America could be good for the church. He said, "We are no longer the 'moral majority.' We are a 'prophetic minority.'"

Is Pope Francis a True Catholic? (It's No Joke); Glut of Skepticism on Cath. Tradition Stuns Many

"Is the pope Catholic?" goes the quip that people usually use in order to confirm the truth of something they have just said. But with a series of recent pronouncements and decisions bucking papal tradition, Pope Francis has many Catholics wondering if the Catholic Church will survive his young papacy, according to the WND (World Net Daily) website.

In recent days, the media have seized on a remark that appeared to suggest that non-believers -- not just non-Catholics, but even atheists -- can gain salvation and be admitted into heaven, while his new appointment to be secretary of state, the second most important position in the Vatican, has suggested the Vatican is ready to rethink celibacy and the clergy, suggesting priests and nuns might be allowed to get married in the near future.

Pope Francis has conveyed other shocking beliefs to traditional Catholic thinking in his young papacy of six months. For example, he responded with these words to a reporter's question regarding homosexuality in the Catholic Church: "If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?"

Whether or not a plethora of Catholics will soon leave the Catholic Church -- as a result of Pope Francis' frequent and unprecedented opposition of traditional Catholic beliefs -- remains to be seen.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Univ. of Alabama Sororities Bar Black Students; Rev. Jesse Jackson Urges Americans Picket Them

The Rev. Jesse Jackson said people should picket sororities at the University of Alabama, which have been accused of barring black students from pledging, the UPI (United Press International) website reports today (September 15, 2013).

The school's student newspaper -- The Crimson White -- published a story on September 11 that two black students had been barred from pledging primarily white sororities on campus.

Speaking to the newspaper, Jackson said the public outrage over the allegations could be compared to the civil rights movement that swept the state and nation 50 years ago.

"Gender or racial segregation is abhorrent to an intelligent, civilized people," he said. "You might take a sorority and start picketing there."

Israel Using Israeli Books in E. Jerusalem Schools; Teaching Palestinian Kids Hebrew Enrages Parents

It's the beginning of a new school year in Israel, with an entirely new kind of classroom experience -- one where Palestinian children in East Jerusalem are for the first time studying Israeli textbooks -- the Washington Post website reports today (September 15, 2013). East Jerusalem is sought by the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) as the capital of a future Palestinian state.

In other cities, this might just be viewed as a bureaucratic tweaking of educational priorities. But in East Jerusalem, the switch to Israeli course work -- with its emphasis on Hebrew language and Israeli history -- may well have incendiary consequences.

Israeli officials say that by offering an alternative to an antiquated Jordanian curriculum overseen by the Palestinian Authority, they are trying to do right by students by helping them succeed as citizens in a polyglot, knowledge-based economy. But the new curriculum has been branded by Palestinian officials in Ramallah -- the administrative center of the West Bank -- as a bullying tactic by an occupying power seeking to brainwash their young charges.

"The teachers have had many threats over the past week, and they are having many problems," said Lara Mubarichi, Jerusalem's deputy director of education for East Jerusalem. "In one school, there were 300 parents who signed up, and now it has gone down to 86," she said. "In another school, all the parents pulled out."

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Over 50 Die in Philippines Due to Muslim Attacks; Muslim Separatists Seek Ind. Islamic State on P.I.

There have been several clashes in the Philippine Islands (P.I.) this week between the army and Muslim separatists, the Euro News website reports today (September 14, 2013). The Philippine Islands is the only predominantly Christian nation in all of Asia, as more than 80 percent of its 90 million population is Roman Catholic.

Troops have been fighting the MNLF (Moro Islamic Liberation Front) rebels in the city of Zamboanga and surrounding villages since they launched an attack on September 9. The MNLF -- a small Islamist militant group in the Philippines -- is fighting in an effort to obtain an independent Islamic state in the southern part of the islands, which is called the Moro region.

More than 50 people have died in the violence and around 60,000 have fled their homes.

Visiting a sports center housing those who had been displaced, Philippine president, Benigno Aquino, said he was hopeful the violence would soon end. He said: "These problems of ours are getting smaller. There will still be clashes but the MNLF did not succeed with their scheming and I guarantee that this will subside. We will end this crisis as soon as possible."

Al Qaeda Head Sends Message for Sept. 11 Anniv.; Calls for Attacks on US Soil to "Bleed" Finances

Al Qaeda terror network leader Ayman al-Zawahri has sent out a message marking September 11, 2001, with a call for more attacks on U.S. soil, aimed at hitting America hard in the pocketbook, the Washington Times website reports today (September 14, 2013).

The Muslim terror leader released an audio recording on September 12, saying America is hardly a "mythical power" and that Islamic holy warriors -- or mujahedeen -- can surely defeat the nation "on its own soil."

He called on al Qaeda militants to set off a number of smaller attacks to "bleed" America's finances, or go for another "big strike" like the September 11, 2001 hit. In other words, Al Qaeda forces should perform any action they can to create a "state of tension," fear, and instability in America. 

His message appeared on a website that is often used by al Qaeda as a message board.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Muslims Kill Egypt Christians for Not Paying Tax; Demanded Christians Pay Them Rel. Minority Tax

Muslims in southern Egypt killed two Christian men for failing to pay them protection money, the Christian Broadcast Network website reports today (September 13, 2013).

Muslims in the area are demanding Christians pay them "jizya" -- a kind of tax that Islamic law requires religious minorities pay Muslims. However, the tax is so high that many Christians simply can't afford it.

The Voice of the Martyrs reports that a Muslim man demanded a Christian in a village in Assiut pay him nearly $1,500. The Christian sought help from local police, but to no avail.

When he failed to come up with the money, several Muslims went to his home and shot him and his cousin to death.

Cath. Website Says Women Must Not Go to College; Claims It's Not Worth the Loss of Women's Purity

A Catholic website this week encouraged its readers not to allow their daughters to go to college, because any young woman would be near sin and would "not learn to be a wife and mother," the Raw Story website reports today (September 13, 2013).

In a Sunday article on the "Fix the Family" website, Raylan Alleman explains that young women "will attract the wrong types of men" at college: "those lazy men who are looking for a mother-figure in a wife are very attracted to this responsible, organized, smart woman who has it all together." He asserts that daughters should "learn to be a wife and mother" instead of pursuing higher education.

"The bottom line, HE is only supplementing HER income, but he's supposed to be the provider," he writes. "What she did that was looked upon to be the responsible thing 'just in case' ends up being a self-fulfilling prophecy because of the type of man she married."

"Is a degree worth the loss of your daughter's purity, dignity, and soul?" he asks. "A woman is naturally very observant of a man's faults as long as she is in a platonic relationship with him. Once she becomes sexually active with him, she releases hormones that mask his faults, and she remains in a dreamy state about him. We can see why God would arrange things in such a way so that when in a proper state of holy matrimony, she would be less sensitive to his faults and thereby less tempted to be critical of him."

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Pope's "Top Dog" Seeks a Discussion on Celibacy; Abp. Parolin Backs Pope's Quest to View Tradition

In an apparent effort to promote Pope Francis' encouragement to shake up some age-old traditions in the Roman Catholic Church, the Pope's new right-hand man has called for a "discussion" on the issue of celibacy, the Daily Mail (British) website reports today (September 12, 2013).

Archbishop Pietro Parolin -- the new secretary of state of the Vatican -- told the Venezuelan newspaper "El Universal" that celibacy is tradition rather than law, and should be open to discussion.

Archbishop Parolin said the Church must "reflect the democratic spirit of the times" and take the opinions of its members into account. He added: "Celibacy is not an institution but look, it is also true that you can discuss it because as you say this is not a dogma, a dogma of the church."

Archbishop Parolin is considered to be the most powerful official in the Vatican and his comments carry considerable weight.

England's Birmingham College Bans Muslim Veils; Ban Will Let Students Study in Safe Environment

Citing "security reasons," England's Birmingham Metropolitan College has banned the use of religious veils on its campus, thus provoking anger among Muslim students and staff, the Spero Forum website reports today (September 12, 2013).

It is the women's "niqab" veil -- which leaves only a small gap for the eyes -- that the college has deemed a risk, having decided that individuals should be "easily identifiable at all times" so that all students can study in a "safe and welcoming learning environment."

"We have a very robust equality, diversity, and inclusion policy at Birmingham Metropolitan College, but to ensure that safeguarding is a priority, we have developed our policy alongside student views to ensure we keep them safe," principal and chief-executive Dame Christine Braddock said to the media.

The veiling of Muslim women varies from place to place, and from sect to sect. In secularized Muslim-majority countries, women appear unveiled in public, while in more traditional Muslim countries they may be entirely covered, as are the women of Afghanistan who are traditionally compelled to have even their eyes covered.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Pope Tells Christians Church Is Their "Mamma;" Says They Should Celebrate Baptism Date Each Yr.

Pope Francis gave pilgrims attending his weekly public audience today (September 11, 2013) what he called a "homework assignment" to find out the date they were baptized and celebrate it every year, according to the Catholic News website.

"Our baptismal date is the date of our birth in the church," he said. "When you go home today, look hard for the date of your baptism, so you can celebrate it and thank the Lord for this gift."

The pope's remarks came during a talk on the subject of the church as mother, for which he mostly used the informal Italian term "mamma."

He added, "The link is vital, like that one has with one's own mom, because the church is really the mother of Christians."

Brooklyn Drug Pushers Prefer Shabbat to Money; Text Customers They Close at Sundown on Fridays

A group of Jewish drug pushers from Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, texted their hours to customers and warned that they closed for Shabbat (the Jewish Sabbath), according to an indictment unsealed yesterday, the New York Daily News website reports today (September 11, 2013).

The indictment accuses the five men of conspiracy for sending texts to customers announcing drugs for purchase, such as heroin.

The messages repeatedly warned customers against arriving after sundown on a Friday or before sundown on Saturday, the indictment says.

"We are closing 7:30 on the dot and we will reopen Saturday 8:15 so if u need anything you have 45 mins to get what you want," a message to more than 50 recipients read. The men are accused of peddling heroin, oxycodone, cocaine, and other drugs from their Bedford Avenue drug warehouse.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

France Puts Secular Charter in All State Schools; Ed Minister: It Promotes "Freedom of Conscience"

French Education Minister Vincent Peillon has unveiled the controversial secularism charter which is to be displayed in a prominent position in every school to remind pupils and teachers of the country's secular, Republican principles, the Europe News website reports today (September 10, 2013).

The Minister says the charter is designed to promote "absolute respect for freedom of conscience." The charter's 15 principles have been much discussed and have already been condemned as "an attack on Islam."

On September 8, Peillon told the Journal du Dimanche (Sunday Newspaper) that: "The first article of our constitution states that the Republic is indivisible, democratic, social, and secular. The school must teach these values, explain their meanings and their history. Because if we do not teach them, we should not be surprised if they are misunderstood or even ignored," he said.

The Minister rejected accusations that the charter was a veiled attack on Islam. Abdallah Zekri -- president of the Observatory of Islamophobia -- said he felt "targeted" by the charter. "This charter was supposedly made to combat communitarianism... But honestly, I feel targeted because now when anyone talks about 'communitarianism,' they're really talking about Muslims," he said.

Secularists Complain of Cross on Fla. City's Seal; It's 1st Time City of DeLand's Seal Is Challenged

The city of DeLand, Florida received a letter from Americans United for Separation of Church and State (AU) that claims an anonymous resident complained to AU about the city's official seal, the Charisma News website reports today (September 10, 2013).

The seal dates back to 1882, when the city was incorporated. It includes the city's name, its founding date and an anchor, heart and cross that AU claims is a representation of faith, hope, and charity. As far as the city is aware, this is the first complaint it has ever received about the seal in its 131-year history.

The American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) sent a letter to city officials explaining that the city's seal is constitutional. The letter notes similarities between DeLand's seal and other city seals or insignias that have been upheld in court.

The ACLJ letter also states: "We included one court's observation that 'the people of the United States did not adopt the Bill of Rights in order to strip the public square of every last shred of public piety. The notion that the First Amendment commands a brooding and pervasive devotion to the secular... is a notion that simply perverts our history.'"

Monday, September 9, 2013

Gift of $250M to KY's Centre College Is Canceled; Was Linked to Capital Market Event That Declined

A small Kentucky liberal arts college lost out on one of the largest gifts in U.S. higher education history last week when a $250 million donation was withdrawn, the ABC News website reports today (September 9, 2013).

Centre College in Danville, Kentucky -- known for hosting vice presidential debates in 2000 and 2012 -- said the all-stock gift from the A. Eugene Brockman Charitable Trust was linked to a "significant capital market event" that didn't pan out. As a result, the gift was withdrawn and a proposed scholarship program at Centre is on hold.

"We're not happy, in any shape or form, with this outcome," Centre College President John Roush said. "This would have helped us do better what we're already doing."

The donation would have created a Centre College scholarship program next year. Annually, 40 students majoring in the natural and computational sciences and economics would have received the full-ride scholarships, with a total of 160 students getting the assistance once fully implemented, the school said.

Russia Sends Plane to Syria to Evacuate Citizens; Due to Likelihood of Imminent US Attack on Syria

Fearing an imminent attack on Syria by the United States, Russia's Emergency Situations Ministry sent a plane for its citizens to leave Syria, the RIA Novosti (Russian) website reports today (September 9, 2013).

"An 11-76 plane took off for Latakia on Sunday morning," said Russian Emergency Ministry Spokeswoman Irina Rossius. "The plane will carry both Russians and citizens of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) from Syria," she added.

The voluntary evacuation is the second operation organized by Russia after it removed nearly 90 people -- mostly women and children -- last month from Syria's Latakia city to Moscow.

The Russian move came after the U.S. State Department asked its non-emergency staff and family members on September 6 to leave Lebanon, citing security concerns.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Exclusive: Obama Foiled Israel from Bombing Iran; Netanyahu Was Set to Attack Iran's Nuclear Sites

A former Israeli national security adviser -- who is a retired Major General in the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) -- has said that Barack Obama forced Israel to abandon attacking Iranian nuclear sites last year, the Breitbart website reports exclusively today (September 8, 2013).

According to the Israeli paper "Mida," Giora Eiland said, "Israel has the capability to destroy the Iranian nuclear program," but White House officials told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu -- who was ready to issue the attack order -- to abandon the strike. Eiland asserted, "At that time, the prime minister thought that we were at the crossroads with regard to the Iranian nuclear program."

Eiland added, "There are many areas where Israel is free to act independently... Israel does not require U.S. approval for its military actions -- unless the U.S. unequivocally demands that we refrain from a particular action."

Eiland concluded, "As time passed, we are again finding ourselves at the same crossroads -- only with less time, and between a rock and a hard place. A lack of decision is a dramatic decision in and of itself."

Cowed Arab Woman Vacates Israeli Feminist Party; Threatened "Running for Election Will End Badly"

An Arab woman was forced to withdraw her candidacy in a new pan-Israel women's political party because of threats, the Jewish Press website reports today (September 8, 2013).

The party -- Ometz Lev (Courage) -- was founded by Jerusalem Deputy Mayor Naomi Tsur and Councilwoman Edna Friedman to push for women's rights. They intended to include all sectors of Israeli feminist society in the party, including Arab and Hareidi women.

When they registered and had to reveal the names of the candidates on their slate, the east Jerusalem Arab woman's name was included. And then several threats -- believed to be from radical Muslims -- were made to the woman.

"It started with telephone calls to my home," says the woman. "The calls warned me that running for election is to acknowledge the sovereignty of Israel over the east (part of the city) and it will end badly." Ultimately, she says, her family pressured her to remove her candidacy. "We need you alive," said her relatives, and so she gave up the idea.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

MN Church Worker Stole Over $300K in a Decade; Raenay Hendrickson Took Extra Paychecks

A former Minneapolis church worker has admitted stealing more than $300,000 from her employer over the past decade by taking extra paychecks, the Christian Broadcast Network News website reports today (September 7, 2013).

Fifty-one-year-old Raenay Hendrickson of Brooklyn Park, Minnesota pleaded guilty to five counts of theft by swindle over $5,000.

Hendrickson worked for 16 years for the Minneapolis Area Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. The Hennepin County Attorney's office says Hendrickson had full access to the church's checking account.

Her embezzling dates back to at least 2002, and stopped only when she was fired in July 2012. Hendrickson is expected to receive one year and five months in prison when she is sentenced November 4. A judge will determine how much restitution she'll have to pay.

Exclusive: Egypt Govt. Ends Muslim Brotherhood; Announcement of Its Downfall to Come Next Week

Egypt's army-backed interim government will dissolve the Muslim Brotherhood as a non-governmental organization (NGO), the Independent (British) website reports exclusively today (September 7, 2013). The move -- approved by Egypt's minister of social solidarity --  continues a crackdown on the political movement which backed deposed president Mohammed Morsi.

The decision applies to the NGO the Brotherhood registered in March in response to a lawsuit arguing that the group had no legal status. The move marks a legal challenge to Morsi's movement as the police round up its leaders across the country.

"The minister's decision has in fact been issued but it will be announced at the start of next week in a press conference," Hany Mahana, spokesman for the minister of social solidarity, is quoted as saying in the state-run Al-Akhbar newspaper.

Social Solidarity Minister Ahmed el-Boraie's decision to dissolve the group as an NGO stemmed from accusations that the Brotherhood had used its headquarters to fire and store weapons and explosives. Egypt's military deposed Morsi as president on July 3 in response to mass protests against his dictatorial rule.

Friday, September 6, 2013

US Evacuates Its Non-Essential Staff from Beirut; Urges Americans Quit Lebanon Due to Syrian War

The United States evacuated non-essential staff from its Beirut embassy today (September 6, 2013) and urged Americans not to travel to Lebanon, Pakistan, or southern Turkey, as Washington considers deadly strikes against neighboring Syria, according to the AFP (Agence France Press) website.

"The Department of State has ordered a drawdown of non-emergency US government personnel and family members in Beirut, Lebanon and approved the drawdown of non-emergency personnel and family members who wish to leave Adana, Turkey," deputy State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said.

The evacuations come as the United States has been trying to build support for US military strikes on the Syrian regime in retaliation for its alleged use of chemical weapons in an August 21 attack on Damascus suburbs. It now appears that U.S. President Obama is determined to bomb Syria as early as September 10, 2013.

The evacuation decision had been made due to "current tensions in the region, as well as potential threats to US government facilities and personnel," Harf said. She refused to indicate approximately how many people were involved in the evacuation.

Northeastern Univ. Fights Union for Part-Timers; Hires Nation's Number 1 Union-Busting Law Firm

According to Adjunct Action -- a project of Service Employees International Union (SEIU) -- Northeastern University in Boston has retained Jackson Lewis, a New York-based law firm that the AFL-CIO calls "the number one union-buster in America," used by major corporations to defeat employee organizing efforts, the Alter Net website reports today (September 6, 2013).

Adjunct Action has been successful in its efforts to unionize non-tenure-track faculty at several colleges in Greater Boston during the past several months. Adjuncts at Northeastern -- which offers more part-time academic programs than any other university in New England --  have formed an organizing committee with the goal of unionizing.

Last week, part-time employees at Northeastern received a memorandum from Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Stephen Director. The memo states, in part, "We encourage all of our faculty members to work directly with the University on any issues or concerns they may have. We are concerned about the impact that ceding your rights to do so to an outside organization, which is unfamiliar with our culture, will have on our community."

"The letter doesn't resonate with my experience working at Northeastern," says Abigail Machson-Carter, an adjunct professor who teaches writing to international students in the University's Global Pathways department, and is a supporter of the union effort. She adds, "There isn't much direct communication between administrators and part-time workers. They offer us a contract, and we can either sign it or not."

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Afghan Militants Kill Female Author from India; Woman Wrote Book on Life under Islamist Militia

Suspected Taliban militants in Afghanistan today (September 5, 2013) shot dead a Hindu Indian woman whose memoir about marrying a Muslim Afghan and life under the Islamist militia was made into a Bollywood movie, according to the CBS News website.

The killing of Sushmita Banerjee was the latest in a string of attacks on prominent women in Afghanistan, adding to fears women's rights in a country where many women are barely allowed outside the house will recede even more after U.S.-led foreign forces fully withdraw in 2014.

The militants arrived before dawn at Banjerjee's residence in eastern Paktika province, which lies in Afghanistan's east -- a region where the Taliban are especially influential.

The militants then dragged Banerjee outside, took her to a nearby road and shot her at least 15 times, provincial police chief Gen. Dawlat Khan Zadran told the press. The Taliban places several severe  restrictions on women, including banning them from working and prohibiting them -- as well as young girls -- from attending schools.

Romanian Commie Prison Boss Hit with Genocide; Often Denied Prisoners Food,Medicine,Healthcare

Romanian prosecutors have charged a communist-era prison commander, Alexander Visinescu, with genocide, the Newsmax World website reports today (September 5, 2013).

It is the first such charge in Romania since the 1989 revolution which led to the Christmas Day executions of Communist Party leader and President Nicolae Ceausescu and his wife Elena.

Visinescu, 88, could face life in prison if found guilty. He was head of the Ramnicu Sarat prison in eastern Romania from 1956 until 1963.

Testimony from survivors shows that at the prison, detainees were denied food, medicine, and healthcare, subjected to unbearably cold conditions, and beaten for minor infractions, according to the Romanian Institute for the Investigation of Communist Crimes and the Memory of the Romanian Exile.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Chicago Schools Teaching Sex Ed in Kindergarten; Some Parents Oppose Sex Classes in the Schools

This school year -- which begins this week in most American communities -- the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) will be teaching mandatory sex education in the kindergarten, The New American website reports today (September 4, 2013).

The CPS says the the curriculum will use language children understand and focus on topics like bullying, correct names for external body parts, and the difference between appropriate and inappropriate touching.

The new policy calls for 300 minutes of instruction, amounting to approximately 30 minutes per month.

Some parents, however, are opposed to such lessons being taught in public schools -- especially to children as young as kindergartners. Parent Brook Lyon said, "If he (her son) has questions, I'm happy to answer them, but I'm not sure it belongs in a classroom setting."

Boston Mayor Is in the Doghouse for Detroit Slur; "I'd Like to Go to Detroit and Blow Up the Place"

Boston Mayor Tom Menino apologized this week after infuriating residents of Detroit by saying he would like to go to that city and "blow up the place," the Raw Story website reports today (September 4, 2013).

In a recent interview with The New York Times, Menino had been asked how he would handle Detroit's bankruptcy if he were mayor.

"I'd blow up the place and start all over," Menino said. "No, seriously, when it takes a police officer 90 minutes to answer a call, there's something wrong with the system. Forty percent of the streetlights are out, most of the buildings are boarded up. Why? Inaction, that's the problem -- leadership."

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing fired back yesterday by saying he was disappointed at Menino's choice of words less than a year after the Boston Marathon bombings. He added, "I would think the mayor of a city that recently experienced a deadly bombing attack would be more sensitive and not use the phrase 'blow up.'"

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Mass. Supreme Court Hears Arguments on Pledge; Atheist Couple Seeks to Cut Pledge's "Under God"

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) will begin hearing arguments this week in an Acton, Massachusetts atheist couple's quest to strike the words "under God" from the Pledge of Allegiance which their children say in the Acton-Boxboro Regional School District, the Boston Herald website reports today (September 3, 2013).

The couple's suit -- filed anonymously on behalf of their three children -- goes to the SJC tomorrow, with Washington, D.C. activist organizations taking part in the proceedings.

The American Humanist Association says in court filings that the pledge uses "wording strongly favoring one religious class while disfavoring the plaintiffs' religious class."

Congress added the words "under God" to the pledge in 1954 as a result of a lobbying effort by the Knights of Columbus.

Snowden Leaked Data: US Distrusts Ally Pakistan; US Surveillance Sees Pakistan Like Al-Qaeda, Iran

Despite the fact that Pakistan is technically a U.S. ally, a summary of the $52.6 billion "black budget" leaked by Edward Snowden reveals that Pakistan -- a nation with a plethora of radical Islamists --  is as much a target of US surveillance as al-Qaeda, Iran, and North Korea, the Newser website reports today (September 3, 2013).

In fact, the Washington Post -- which is taking an extensive look at these leaked documents -- states: "No other nation draws as much scrutiny across so many categories of national security concern; intelligence gaps around Pakistan's nuclear weapons program."

The US security concerns on Pakistan are so serious that one budget section focusing on the movement of such weapons divides the world in two: One category is Pakistan, the other is everyone else.

The US's main concern seems to be whether Pakistan can keep its own nuclear, chemical, and biological sites safe; the US fear is that Islamist militants could attack or take control of these nuclear sites.

Russian Gay Activist Hit for Anti-Semitic Tweets; Called "Out" Magazine a "Jewish Slut Magazine"

One of Russia's most prominent gay rights activists has made anti-Semitic statements on his Twitter and Facebook accounts, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency website reports today (September 3, 2013).

The tweets appeared last week on Nikolai Alexeyev's account in connection with an article about him in "Out" magazine -- a popular gay monthly publication in the United States. Alexeyev, 37, re-tweeted comments calling the author of the article, Michael Lucas, a "Jewish pig" and "Israeli monkey," and calling "Out" magazine a "Jewish slut magazine that supports Jews and their filthy faggotry propaganda."

In response to the comments, Human Rights First -- an American nongovernmental organization -- canceled a conference call featuring Alexeyev, prompting him to wire on Twitter: "I was just denied to take part in a sham conference call with U.S. journalists tomorrow. Jewish lobby in U.S. worked well. U.S.A. is a totalitarian state with no freedom of speech! I have much more freedom here in Russia!"

Gay rights in Russia have attracted international attention in recent weeks after the Russian parliament passed a law in June prohibiting the dissemination of "propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations to minors."

Monday, September 2, 2013

Sharia Annuls Marriage, Says Son Is Illegitimate; Due to Woman's 2nd Husband While 1st Is in Jail

The Higher Sharia (Islamic Law) Judicial Council in Palestine has ruled that a baby boy is illegitimate, as he was born out of a woman's second marriage, while her first husband was in an Israeli jail, the Gulf News (Mideast) website reports today (September 2, 2013).

The lack of an electronic archive was blamed for the confusion that allowed the woman to have two marriage contracts.

Yousef Edais -- who heads the judicial council -- said that the woman cannot have two marriage contracts at the same time and that her second marriage is illegitimate. "The woman had an illicit affair and produced illegitimate children," he told Gulf News.

On the other hand, Islamic law allows men to be married to four women at the same time.

Lightning Hits Quincy,MA Church During Service; Bolt Strikes Steeple, Church Cancels AM Service

Lightning struck the Bethany Congregational Church in Quincy, Massachusetts on Sunday, September 1, shortly after services began, the Drudge Report website reports today (September 2, 2013).

Everyone inside heard a loud noise when a bolt hit the steeple. The blast sent some debris from the roof crashing down to the pavement outside.

The pastor -- who served a tour in Iraq -- said it reminded him of a bomb. "I was more concerned about the people here in the church and what they were going through. It shocked a lot of them," Pastor Bill Harding said.

The church quickly canceled the morning service because of concerns that two pieces of concrete from the damaged steeple could fall through the roof. Fortunately, no one was hurt.

Egypt Judges Call for End of Muslim Brotherhood; Accuse Brotherhood of Operating Outside the Law

A panel of Egyptian judges today (September 2, 2013) recommended the dissolution of the Muslim Brotherhood, adding momentum to a push by authorities to ban the ousted president's main backer and a pillar of political Islam in the region, according to the Associated Press website.

Since the military deposed Mohammed Morsi in a July 3 coup, it has steadily intensified a crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt's largest political organization. Hundreds of its members are in detention and facing prosecution, many on charges of inciting violence.

Morsi himself has been held in an undisclosed location since his ouster. Yesterday, state prosecutors charged him with inciting the murder of his opponents.

In its recommendation to Egypt's administrative court, the panel of judges accused the Brotherhood of operating outside the law. It also recommended the closure of its Cairo headquarters.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Police Arrest 3 Who Broke into Greek Monastery; Tied Monks, Planned to Search for Buried Coins

Police have arrested three armed men who allegedly broke into a Greek monastery, tied up four  monks, and planned to search for treasure with a mechanical digger, The Orthodox Church Info blog reports today (September 1, 2013).

They were caught today when a friar who avoided capture phoned police before the digging could start at the Greek Orthodox Monastery of St. George near Aliartos, northwest of Athens. It was rebuilt in modern times on medieval ruins.

The four monks who were captured -- along with the mother of one of them -- were not hurt.

Police said four other suspects in the attack are being sought, and quoted the captured suspects as saying they had planned to search for buried coins, not religious artifacts.

Morsi to Be Tried for "Inciting Killing, Thuggery;" Ousted Egyptian Head Expanded His Pres. Powers

A state prosecutor decided today (September 1, 2013) that ousted Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi is headed to court along with 14 other Muslim Brotherhood members for "committing acts of violence, and inciting killing and thuggery," according to the Newser website.

The charges relate to violent protests outside the presidential palace last December, after Morsi expanded his own presidential powers.

Morsi is accused of inciting his supporters to kill and beat the protesters.

He is also being investigated over his 2011 prison break, in which he has been accused of murder and conspiring with Hamas, but no charges have been brought in that case yet.